Since July 2001, all Local Authorities have had the power to make a discretionary payment to top up payments of housing benefit (HB) and, until 31 March 2013, council tax benefit. The legislation governing Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) is contained in the Discretionary Financial Assistance Regulations 2001 (SI 2001/1167).
The main features of the scheme are:
- The scheme is purely discretionary; a customer does not have a statutory right to a payment
- The amount that a local authority can pay out in any financial year is cash limited by the Secretary of State
- The local authority determines how to operate the scheme
- DHPs are not payments of benefit
- The minimum amount of Housing Benefit must be in payment in the benefit week that a DHP is awarded for.
The purpose of this policy is to specify how Tonbridge and Malling Benefits Service will operate the scheme and to indicate some of the factors that will be taken into account when considering if a DHP can be made.
Each case will be treated strictly on its merits and all customers will be treated equally and fairly. The Benefits Service is committed to working with the local voluntary sector, social landlords and other interested parties to maximise entitlement to all available state benefits.
The Benefits Service will consider making a DHP to customers who meet the qualifying criteria as specified in this policy. The Benefits Service will treat all applications on their individual merits, and will seek through the operation of this policy to:
- Alleviate poverty;
- Safeguard residents in their homes and prevent homelessness;
- Keep families together;
- Support the vulnerable;
- Help those who are trying to help themselves;
- Help customers through personal crises;
The Benefits Service considers that the DHP scheme should be seen as a 'short term' emergency fund. It is not and should not be considered as a way around any current or future entitlement restrictions set out within the Housing Benefit legislation.
To claim DHP you will need to complete a Discretionary Housing Payment application form. You will need to print, complete and return the application form to us as the form must be signed. Please note the application form is two pages, both of which must be completed and returned for us to consider your application.
You can ask us by email to send you the form. Alternatively, you can contact the benefits team on 01732 876376.